Sunday, August 05, 2012

Upton Smears Jack (Part 5)

Congressman Fred Upton is not only accusing Jack Hoogendyk of voting against conservatives, but he is also accusing him being a bad person, too. That's the gist of several controversies manufactured by the Upton campaign.

1. Running for Office

Upton's radio ads state that Jack has run for office "nine times in nine years". This claim is not true. I dealt with it in this post. It seems that Upton is trying to imply that there is something wrong with running for a number of different offices, but I'm not sure what. In any case, Jack has won more races than he has lost. In contrast to to Jack running for office "nine times in nine years", Fred Upton has run for one office fourteen times, which is totally different.

2. Lobbyist

Upton is sending out mailers attacking Jack for (briefly) being a lobbyist. But a lobbyist is just someone whose job is to talk to legislators. Lobbyists have a bad reputation since many lobby for special government spending, tax policies, and regulations for their clients. But Jack worked for a free-market group lobbying for less government. That's something to be proud of.

3. Campaign finance reports

Jack's accounting software left out some of his expenditures from his campaign finance report. He corrected the report. Nobody was harmed.

4. Petition signatures

Jack accidentally signed one of the petition forms circulated by his campaign manager. The signatures were all valid. Nobody was harmed.

5. IRS disclosure

Apparently the IRS requires that if you raise over $100,000 dollars, you have to include a statement on your literature that your contributions are not tax-deductible. Why would anyone think they were? Why only over $100,000? This is a ridiculous regulation. In any case, Jack subsequently included the statement. As with the previous two items, nobody was actually harmed here. These three items were purely technicalities.

6. Mattawan robocalls

As far as I know, the Upton campaign has not made an issue of this, but some of the Upton trolls on Mlive have. Back in 2011, the Mattawan school district tried for the second time to impose a massive tax increase. Jack (who lives in the district) made a robocall in his own voice, using his own phone number, to alert voters about the tax increase. He accidentally omitted a federally-required "paid for by" statement, so he made a second robocall after voters defeated the tax increase thanking them and informing them and who paid for the calls. The Gazette tried to make a big deal out of this, but nothing came of it.


As troubling as the specific smears Upton has pushed is the philosophy that underlies them. He seems to hold to legal positivism, which means that actions are wrong because they are illegal, rather than natural law, which holds that there is a preexisting moral order that the law is designed to uphold. Conservatives believe that massive federal regulations need to be rolled back. Upton apparently believes that anyone who violates them is some kind of fiend who needs to be punished.

But there are so many laws and regulations that it simply isn't possible to follow all of them. One prominent lawyer claims that we all commit "three felonies per day" without knowing it. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" when it comes to moral law, which is "written upon the heart of man", but it is a great excuse regarding arbitrary and capricious regulations of an overbearing government.

In this context, we must not forget that Fred Upton voted for and championed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, which banned advertisements critical of members of Congress near an election (and would have banned them all the time until this provision was weakened). Major portions of the law were eventually thrown out by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Doubtless Upton would condemn anyone violating this law, rather than applaud citizens for standing up for freedom of speech against government encroachment.

The effect, and often the intent, of all these campaign finance regulations is to discourage average citizens from running for office, and to ensnare those who do. Not everyone can afford to hire the professional lawyers and accountants that incumbent members of Congress have. And the time it takes to learn all the ins and outs of the system is time not spent campaigning.

Fred Upton's philosophy would move us away from a society of limited government and the rule of law, where there are a few simple moral laws that apply equally to everyone. Instead, we are moving toward a society where everyone is guilty of something, and those with political power use the law to punish those without.

Upton Smears Jack (Part 4)
Upton Smears Jack (Part 3)
Upton Smears Jack (Part 2)
Upton Smears Jack
Jack's Response to Upton Mailer

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